Our new professional learning community recently got together for a summer “coffee and conversation.” For conversation we used questions from The Big Picture by Dennis Littkey.
The conversation wound its way around to the idea of passion. Remembering conversations at Educon in Philadelphia, I shared a conversation I had with some students who attended the conference. A few of us were talking with them about what they got out of attending, and their comment was ‘we had no idea teachers cared so much about education.’
It made me wonder, as other bloggers have, how often we share our passion with our students. Are they even aware we are passionate about what we do or about our subject? What happens when we share that more openly?
Coincidentally, in the “My Turn” column in this week’s Newsweek, Biology professor Sally Hoskins evokes her passion for biology and how to share it with students. “If my students remember nothing else, I’d be happy if they leave with the idea that, just like art of music, science is a creative process.”
“Science isn’t old information pressed like crumbling fall leaves between the pages of forgotten books. It’s alive–growing and shifting and blossoming.”
And yet I fear that students too often leave our classrooms and schools thinking of curriculum as something stored, dried up, and crumbling, instead of something living and breathing. How can we make it “live” for our students?
Many ideas come to mind–bringing it into the real world, using technology tools to engage them actively in interacting with it, inviting students “in” to our curriculum process– but most of all, I think sharing our own energy and passion in a visible way is a way to bring meaning to students.
I think it’s akin to modeling a process for students by verbalizing our thoughts as we go through the process. Do we model or verbalize our passion as we move through a lesson or work with an individual student? Does our passion for books or our subject area become visible? Are we sharing it with our adult colleagues but not our students in the classroom?
When we are around people who are passionate about what they do, or release our own passion and share it, it is contagious. It sparks an interest in some thing that perhaps was unknown to the other person before. It is a burst of life, a spark–and something that is invigorating to both the recipient and the person sharing. Sharing our passion further inspires us to keep on going, to try new things–while inspiring others far beyond the moment when we share with them.
Hoskins’ ends her course showing a video on sea-horses because she wants to share something that her students don’t already know. As she writes so passionately, she wants to share
“Something we’re aware of only because some passionate scientist spends 12 hours a day underwater filming it. Something beautiful and amazing.”
So in the rush for “achievement scores” and grading, and covering the curriculum, and paperwork, and the flow of students in and out of our spaces, we need to ask ourselves–What beautiful and amazing things do I love? And how can I let my students see that?